Blog / Driving blind

I’m getting tired of heads-up displays in video games. User interface elements, in-game markers, whatever you want to call them. I think the industry could be doing a better job to train players to get rid of them.

Forza 5, for instance, is an amazing driving game and gets better when you turn off most of the UI. I’ll talk you through my thinking.

  • First thing to go is the position indicator. Since the AI is much more aggressive you don’t have to place first to get maximum credits. Third will do. You can already see the positions of the cars around you floating above their roofs and the dots on the track indicate how many cars are ahead and behind. Once you fight to third place you merely need to keep anyone from passing you.
  • Then the timing indicators and lap count can go. Doing an endurance race? Turn them on. Otherwise you’re only racing up to three laps and at no point should you let up on the AI. For those short races you can see the lap count before the race begins.
  • Turning off the speedometer should be an easy decision. Are you doing a tuning run and need to verify your approach through a corner? No? Then who cares how fast you’re going? All that matters is your velocity relative to the other cars on the track.
  • There’s also some kind of damage slash pedal meter in the bottom right corner. No idea what it’s doing there. If you haven’t learned how to brake slowly and feather the accelerator through a turn those bars won’t be helpful. If you have learned, they’re pointless.
  • The “Good Turn” indicators are a guilty pleasure and I leave them on. They’re very accurate, though getting a perfect turn means you basically have to powerslide right up to the opposite corner. Not possible unless you’ve left the other insane racers behind.

What’s left on the screen? The map, the labels above each car, and the racing line (braking only). All you need to know is what turn is coming up and where your opponents are. Everything else is just fluff.